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Impact of data

I am currently in Manchester attending a JISC workshop on Managing Research Data.  Several JISC-funded projects are here to describe their progress so far.


On arrival, I looked through the attendee list and noted that I recognised far fewer names than normal so this is clearly a community I haven't really engaged with yet.


Yesterday, there was an interesting keynote speech from the Director of the Digital Curation Centre (DCC).  However, I noted that 'Impact' was the 3rd reason for why researchers should care about data curation.  I asked about the meaning of impact.  In the context of the talk, impact was about whether or not the research for which the data was used got published (and had an effect on the researcher's career).  The DCC focuses on transferring knowledge on curation into and around the higher education sector so this seems like an appropriate definition of impact.  However, given the potential socio-economic impact of research and resultant data, not to mention the business opportunities it could create (though we don't really know where or what these are, let alone how big they might be), I can't help feeling that we need to widen the definition to stimulate greater sharing and exploitation of data.  If businesses could generate wealth or increase the quality of life with this data then surely it would be easier for anyone to justify footing the bill for curation.  I will follow this up with the people I have met during this workshop. 


Does anyone out there have any specific case studies of money being made or saved through the exploitation of research data (specifically that data generated in a different organisation to the one exploiting it)?



2 people have had something to say so far

Hi Zoe

We have put two benefits case studies which may be of interest (one case study for the National Crystallography Service at Southampton another for social sciences -the UK Data Archive) in the Keeping Research Data Safe 2 final report – see
pg­s 53-78.

I suspect Chemistry is one area where data sharing can already be shown to have broad economic impact and use by industry as well as academia. As chemists, Peter Murray-Rust at Cambridge and Simon Coles at Southampton (both were at the Manchester meeting) would be better placed than me to elaborate and suggest examples.

Another obvious major area is bio-sciences, for example the impact of data-sharing through facilities such as the Sanger Institute or the European Bio-informatics Institute (EBI). There is a benefits case study for EBI in the Identifying benefits arising from the curation and open sharing of research data produced by UK Higher Education and research institutes report – see
pgs 39-53.

It highlights how research work that would have taken two years in a lab can now be completed in around half an hour as a result of data sharing through EBI.

Finally there is a draft JISC Data Management Infrastructure Programme Guide to Cost/Benefit Analyses for Research Data Services at
There are still only a relatively small number of socio-economic studies focussing specifically on the socio-economic impact of research data services or research data sharing rather than research per se. The Guide has a bibliography with short summary abstracts of around 19 studies of potential interest to the programme.

I will post a link to your blog on to the research data management email list and our website and hope others can add to these comments.
Posted on 21/05/10 15:40.
[...] Zoe Locke, Lead Technologist at the UK Technology Strategy Board has made an interesting post Impact of Data to their blog requesting any information on the economic impact of research data sharing. Extract as follows: “I am currently in Manchester att... [...] Read More
Posted on 21/05/10 16:04.